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Yesterdays and Forever
Artist: XL427
Label: POPTEK Records  
Time: 6 tracks / 20:02
 
Making no pretense at creating anything that remotely resembles a polished Nashville music-machine product, Andy Ingram takes on the name XL427 and records “some songs to God… too catchy and quirky for the Christian industry and …too pure for the drunks.” To achieve his goal, Ingram – drummer for label-mates, Ruetschle – picked up a guitar and enlisted the aid of a few friends in the studio to produce the eclectic, highly personal solo project, Yesterdays and Forever.
 
The relatively short CD (20 minutes) begins with some mild feedback and other studio sounds as if to emphasize the fact that what follows will be fairly raw, unpolished music from the heart – and so it is. Ingram plays drums, guitar, synthesizer, and sings, while Mike Ruetschle handles electric guitar parts and additional vocals, ‘Cooper’ plays bass, Dan Stahl also plays drums, and Amy Willmann plays piano. Despite a full complement of musicians being involved, the sound of Yesterdays and Forever remains very sparse and airy with plenty of space left in the tracks. 
 
“I think I achieved my goal,” says Ingram, “in writing songs that I can still listen to which also alienates any other potential audience” - an odd and potentially frustrating strategy for an artist to pursue, and certainly a dubious achievement for a communicator of ideas.  Still (intentionally or not), there is a certain off-handed charm to Ingram’s elusive melodies and modest arrangements for those willing to invest the time to find it. 
 
The production has ‘home recorded’ written all over it and Ingram’s unabashedly emotional lyrics are at an odd counter with his somewhat lethargic vocal delivery. For instance, in “Snohomish County,” where he sings, “every time I sing / I just want to be / a melody / that brings a smile to Your face, for I am here / just to show You I love You,” he could just as easily be an adolescent singing to his girlfriend as a young man singing to his God, yet the longing here is more of a spiritual than romantic type. This brings up the curious fact that – to me, at least – the track titles bear little or no relationship to the lyrical content of the songs. But then again, if part of his intent is to alienate……
 
For the most part, these songs are ethereal, slow-tempo personal notes to God, sung in a vocal style that might best be described as a loose, somewhat lethargic version of Andy Pratt’s style. The occasional use of piano is effective and lends a bit more of a finished, purposefully-arranged quality to the tracks where it’s used, especially in the tuneful, bouncy Beatle-esque pop ditty, “The Privileged,” an under-two-minute treat which closes out the CD. Those looking for guitar solos will only find one, in “It’s Not Just Pink, it’s New Wave Pink,” the closest thing here to a conventional pop/alt/rock groove.
 
To some extent, this project is one that needs to be listened to with a patient ear, and that only if you’re in the mood to try to feel what it’s like under someone else’s skin. Especially someone who just might be trying to alienate you….
 
Bert Saraco
http://www.myspace.com/expressimage      
http://expressimagephoto.tripod.com 
 
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